15 Apr

I have had an allotment for quite a few years. Won competitions, had chickens (which are now in the garden so the fox doesn't get them) The children grew up digging for worms and picking fruit.

I recently spent some time thinking, reflecting and evaluating which directions I want my art journey to go.

Sorting out the junk draw I found my old sketch books from my degree and I realised I had forgotten what I enjoyed most about being creative and that was just exploring and experimenting.

For this blog I will use it to record my experiments using all natural materials found on my allotment. From weeds to vegetables and fruit. Just not the frogs in the pond.

From the use of plants I will look at making my own Paper, Print from the plants and see what works as natural inks and dyes.

Rust Dyeing. Using the weeds from the Allotment while digging up ready for planting. Forget-me-knots, Dandelions, Blue bells and other mixed leaves and grasses.

Rust dyeing consists of layers of fabric or paper. Tie the layers together with string.  Then put in a pan with any rusty items, add salt and vinegar and boil for 30 minutes. I had some old rusty tin cans that I had sitting by my back door for at least a year. I had been saving them for another project but like many projects, I get side tracked and go off and do some thing else. That can be an issue as an Artist when you just continuously experiment with different crafts. 

So after boiling the layers I left the bits in the bucket with the rusty cans by the back door over night. I can be a bit impatient when it comes to print making as I love to see what has happened with the mark making. You never know what you going to get till you pull the layers back.

My first try wasn't very successful. All I could think was I didn't have enough rusty junk. But second try and I hung the fabric samples to dry on the line and then ironed. I only use a iron for crafts, I never use one for house hold chores. 



Thought I would up date you on my progress.

Love wild flowers, they are abundant coming into summer and they are free. Down side I am taking the bees food. (sorry Bees) Such a ray of colours. So this week I experimented with Steam printing. I rolled up plants from the allotment onto fabric, placed plastic sheeting from packaging on top and then rolled very tightly and tied with string.

Everything I have used so far has been recycled.

I chose to use the poppies. They have such an amazing pigment. I Set up a steamer in my kitchen and steamed the rolled up fabrics for 15 minutes.

I also used the dandelions

Its the first one, Think I need to roll tighter.

So another part of my experimenting was another way of creating a transfer of dyes from the plants to fabric or paper.

I used the heat press to create heat at over 200 F, using layers of wet felt mixed with steam. It took a few attempts. Well a weeks worth of fails to be honest. I found that some plants print better then others

These were done on watercolour paper. But what I really wanted to do was to print on fabric.

When I finally found the method of transfer the plant dyes onto fabric I just couldn't stop.

No I have this method down, I need to decide what to do with the prints. 

Will let you know.....

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